Widespread contribution of Gdf7 lineage to cerebellar cell types and implications for hedgehog-driven medulloblastoma formation.
ABSTRACT: The roof plate is a specialized embryonic midline tissue of the central nervous system that functions as a signaling center regulating dorsal neural patterning. In the developing hindbrain, roof plate cells express Gdf7 and previous genetic fate mapping studies showed that these cells contribute mostly to non-neural choroid plexus epithelium. We demonstrate here that constitutive activation of the Sonic hedgehog signaling pathway in the Gdf7 lineage invariably leads to medulloblastoma. Lineage tracing analysis reveals that Gdf7-lineage cells not only are a source of choroid plexus epithelial cells, but are also present in the cerebellar rhombic lip and contribute to a subset of cerebellar granule neuron precursors, the presumed cell-of-origin for Sonic hedgehog-driven medulloblastoma. We further show that Gdf7-lineage cells also contribute to multiple neuronal and glial cell types in the cerebellum, including glutamatergic granule neurons, unipolar brush cells, Purkinje neurons, GABAergic interneurons, Bergmann glial cells, and white matter astrocytes. These findings establish hindbrain roof plate as a novel source of diverse neural cell types in the cerebellum that is also susceptible to oncogenic transformation by deregulated Sonic hedgehog signaling.
Project description:Aberrant Notch signalling has been linked to many cancers including choroid plexus (CP) tumours, a group of rare and predominantly paediatric brain neoplasms. We developed animal models of CP tumours, by inducing sustained expression of Notch1, that recapitulate properties of human CP tumours with aberrant NOTCH signalling. Whole-transcriptome and functional analyses showed that tumour cell proliferation is associated with Sonic Hedgehog (Shh) in the tumour microenvironment. Unlike CP epithelial cells, which have multiple primary cilia, tumour cells possess a solitary primary cilium as a result of Notch-mediated suppression of multiciliate differentiation. A Shh-driven signalling cascade in the primary cilium occurs in tumour cells but not in epithelial cells. Lineage studies show that CP tumours arise from monociliated progenitors in the roof plate characterized by elevated Notch signalling. Abnormal SHH signalling and distinct ciliogenesis are detected in human CP tumours, suggesting the SHH pathway and cilia differentiation as potential therapeutic avenues.
Project description:Lineage-tracing experiments have shown that some premigratory neural crest cells generate both sensory (S) and autonomic (A) derivatives, whereas others generate only S derivatives. Whether this lineage heterogeneity reflects random variation in a homogeneous population or an early sensory specification of some premigratory crest cells has not been clear. Using Cre recombinase-based fate mapping, we show that GDF7, which is exclusively expressed in the roof plate, marks neural crest cells with a 10-fold higher bias to the sensory lineage than those marked (at the same stage of development) by an inducible Wnt1-Cre, which is expressed more broadly in the dorsal neural tube. In vitro, GDF7 has potent sensory neuron-inducing activity. These data suggest that some premigratory crest cells are deterministically restricted to the S lineage and implicate GDF7 itself in this restriction process.
Project description:Inductive factors are known to direct the regional differentiation of the vertebrate central nervous system (CNS) but their role in the specification of individual neuronal cell types is less clear. We have examined the function of GDF7, a BMP family member expressed selectively by roof plate cells, in the generation of neuronal cell types in the dorsal spinal cord. We find that GDF7 can promote the differentiation in vitro of two dorsal sensory interneuron classes, D1A and D1B neurons. In Gdf7-null mutant embryos, the generation of D1A neurons is eliminated but D1B neurons and other identified dorsal interneurons are unaffected. These findings show that GDF7 is an inductive signal from the roof plate required for the specification of neuronal identity in the dorsal spinal cord and that GDF7 and other BMP family members expressed by the roof plate have non-redundant functions in vivo. More generally, these results suggest that BMP signaling may have a prominent role in the assignment of neuronal identity within the mammalian CNS.
Project description:Functional heterogeneity within tumors presents a significant therapeutic challenge. Here we show that quiescent, therapy-resistant Sox2(+) cells propagate sonic hedgehog subgroup medulloblastoma by a mechanism that mirrors a neurogenic program. Rare Sox2(+) cells produce rapidly cycling doublecortin(+) progenitors that, together with their postmitotic progeny expressing NeuN, comprise tumor bulk. Sox2(+) cells are enriched following anti-mitotic chemotherapy and Smoothened inhibition, creating a reservoir for tumor regrowth. Lineage traces from Sox2(+) cells increase following treatment, suggesting that this population is responsible for relapse. Targeting Sox2(+) cells with the antineoplastic mithramycin abrogated tumor growth. Addressing functional heterogeneity and eliminating Sox2(+) cells presents a promising therapeutic paradigm for treatment of sonic hedgehog subgroup medulloblastoma.
Project description:The caudal neural plate is a distinct region of the embryo that gives rise to major progenitor lineages of the developing central and peripheral nervous system, including neural crest and floor plate cells. We show that dual inhibition of the glycogen synthase kinase 3? and activin/nodal pathways by small molecules differentiate human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) directly into a preneuroepithelial progenitor population we named "caudal neural progenitors" (CNPs). CNPs coexpress caudal neural plate and mesoderm markers, and, share high similarities to embryonic caudal neural plate cells in their lineage differentiation potential. Exposure of CNPs to BMP2/4, sonic hedgehog, or FGF2 signaling efficiently directs their fate to neural crest/roof plate cells, floor plate cells, and caudally specified neuroepithelial cells, respectively. Neural crest derived from CNPs differentiated to neural crest derivatives and demonstrated extensive migratory properties in vivo. Importantly, we also determined the key extrinsic factors specifying CNPs from human embryonic stem cell include FGF8, canonical WNT, and IGF1. Our studies are the first to identify a multipotent neural progenitor derived from hPSCs, that is the precursor for major neural lineages of the embryonic caudal neural tube.
Project description:The roof plate is an organizing center in the dorsal CNS that controls specification and differentiation of adjacent neurons through secretion of the BMP and WNT signaling molecules. Lmx1a, a member of the LIM-homeodomain (LIM-HD) transcription factor family, is expressed in the roof plate and its progenitors at all axial levels of the CNS and is necessary and sufficient for roof plate formation in the spinal cord. In the anterior CNS, however, a residual roof plate develops in the absence of Lmx1a. Lmx1b, another member of the LIM-HD transcription factor family which is highly related to Lmx1a, is expressed in the roof plate in the anterior CNS. Although Lmx1b-null mice do not show a substantial deficiency in hindbrain roof plate formation, Lmx1a/Lmx1b compound-null mutants fail to generate hindbrain roof plate. This observation indicates that both genes act in concert to direct normal hindbrain roof plate formation. Since the requirement of Lmx1b function for normal isthmic organizer at the mid-hindbrain boundary complicates analysis of a distinct dorsal patterning role of this gene, we also used a conditional knock-out strategy to specifically delete dorsal midline Lmx1b expression. Phenotypic analysis of single and compound conditional mutants confirmed overlapping roles for Lmx1 genes in regulating hindbrain roof plate formation and growth and also revealed roles in regulating adjacent cerebellar morphogenesis. Our data provides the first evidence of overlapping function of the Lmx1 genes during embryonic CNS development.
Project description:Critical to the exchange and metabolic functions served by tissues like brain choroid plexi and lung is the coherent development of an epithelial sheet of large surface area in tight apposition to an extensive vascular bed. Here, we present functional experiments in the mouse demonstrating that Sonic hedgehog (Shh) produced by hindbrain choroid plexus epithelium induces the extensive vascular outgrowths and vascular surface area fundamental to choroid plexus functions, but does not induce the more specialized endothelial cell features of fenestrations and bore size. Our findings indicate that these Shh-dependent vascular elaborations occur even in the presence of Vegf and other established angiogenic factors, suggesting either that the levels of these factors are inadequate in the absence of Shh or that a different set of factors may be more essential to choroid plexus outgrowth. Transducing the Shh signal is a perivascular cell-the pericyte-rather than the more integral vascular endothelial cell itself. Moreover, our findings suggest that hindbrain choroid plexus endothelial cells, as compared to other vascular endothelial cells, are more dependent upon pericytes for instruction. Thus, in addition to Shh acting on the progenitor pool for choroid plexus epithelial cells, as previously shown, it also acts on choroid plexus pericytes, and together serves the important role of coordinating the development of two disparate yet functionally dependent structures-the choroid plexus vasculature and its ensheathing epithelium.
Project description:Medulloblastoma is the most common malignant brain tumor in children, but the cells from which it arises remain unclear. Here we examine the origin of medulloblastoma resulting from mutations in the Sonic hedgehog (Shh) pathway. We show that activation of Shh signaling in neuronal progenitors causes medulloblastoma by 3 months of age. Shh pathway activation in stem cells promotes stem cell proliferation but only causes tumors after commitment to-and expansion of-the neuronal lineage. Notably, tumors initiated in stem cells develop more rapidly than those initiated in progenitors, with all animals succumbing by 3-4 weeks. These studies suggest that medulloblastoma can be initiated in progenitors or stem cells but that Shh-induced tumorigenesis is associated with neuronal lineage commitment.
Project description:Both hindbrain roof plate epithelium (hRPe) and hindbrain choroid plexus epithelium (hCPe) produce morphogens and growth factors essential for proper hindbrain development. Despite their importance, little is known about how these essential structures develop. Recent genetic fate maps indicate that hRPe and hCPe descend from the same pool of dorsal neuroectodermal progenitor cells of the rhombic lip. A linear developmental progression has been assumed, with the rhombic lip producing non-mitotic hRPe, and seemingly uniform hRPe transforming into hCPe. Here, we show that hRPe is not uniform but rather comprises three spatiotemporal fields, which differ in organization, proliferative state, order of emergence from the rhombic lip, and molecular profile of either the constituent hRPe cells themselves and/or their parental progenitors. Only two fields contribute to hCPe. We also present evidence for an hCPe contribution directly by the rhombic lip at late embryonic stages when hRPe is no longer present; indeed, the production interval for hCPe by the rhombic lip is surprisingly extensive. Further, we show that the hCPe lineage appears to be unique among the varied rhombic lip-derived lineages in its proliferative response to constitutively active Notch1 signaling. Collectively, these findings provide a new platform for investigating hRPe and hCPe as neural organizing centers and provide support for the model that they are themselves patterned structures that might be capable of influencing neural development along multiple spatial and temporal axes.
Project description:During development, the lumen of the neural tube develops into a system of brain cavities or ventricles, which play important roles in normal CNS function. We have established that the formation of the hindbrain (4th) ventricle in zebrafish is dependent upon the pleiotropic functions of the genes implicated in human Dandy Walker Malformation, Zic1 and Zic4. Using morpholino knockdown we show that zebrafish Zic1 and Zic4 are required for normal morphogenesis of the 4th ventricle. In Zic1 and/or Zic4 morphants the ventricle does not open properly, but remains completely or partially fused from the level of rhombomere (r) 2 towards the posterior. In the absence of Zic function early hindbrain regionalization and neural crest development remain unaffected, but dorsal hindbrain progenitor cell proliferation is significantly reduced. Importantly, we find that Zic1 and Zic4 are required for development of the dorsal roof plate. In Zic morphants expression of roof plate markers, including lmx1b.1 and lmx1b.2, is disrupted. We further demonstrate that zebrafish Lmx1b function is required for both hindbrain roof plate development and 4th ventricle morphogenesis, confirming that roof plate formation is a critical component of ventricle development. Finally, we show that dorsal rhombomere boundary signaling centers depend on Zic1 and Zic4 function and on roof plate signals, and provide evidence that these boundary signals are also required for ventricle morphogenesis. In summary, we conclude that Zic1 and Zic4 control zebrafish 4th ventricle morphogenesis by regulating multiple mechanisms including cell proliferation and fate specification in the dorsal hindbrain.